Merlot from Riparbella, Pisa, Tuscany, Italy
Purchased: 6 March 2017 – $16.99
Opened: 28 Feb 2018
James Suckling: 92
Wine Spectator: 90
Tuscany, a central Italian region bounded by the Tyrrhenian Sea on the west and the Apennines Mountains on the east, is a name synonymous with Italian Renaissance art, ancient history, landscapes of exquisite beauty, and wine. Its wine history dates back to the enigmatic but successful Etruscans in the 8th century BC, growing rich by trading their wine with the Gauls to the north and the Romans and Greeks to the south and east. The aura and renown of Iron Age Tuscany wine secured its perpetuation through the endless generations of Romans, Christian monks, Florentine merchants, Medicis, Hapsburgs, Bourbons, Bonapartes and todays modern Italians. Good wine and time immemorial happily going hand in hand.
Tuscany has the third highest quantity of acres planted in vines in the country but because of its extremely poor soils and the wine makers emphasis on lower yields, it is only sixth in volume, producing just shy of 300,000,000 liters of wine in 2016. The area has a plethora of DOCG and DOC wine regions plus 5 IGT sub-regions that will bewilder even the most diligent and attentive of students and that’s before the Super Tuscans enter into the smorgasbord of categories; all with their rules about grape varieties and percentages spread over a bursting profusion of wineries and vineyards. The better known regions include: Brunello di Montalcino producing rich, full-bodied sangiovese wines; Chianti and Chianti Classico producing the famous medium-bodied wines; and Bolgheri, the region that first produced the well received Super Tuscans.
Merlot is the 3rd most planted grape in the world and 5th most common in Italy. It is one of the primary grapes for Bordeaux blends and is very popular as a stand alone variety. It is a dark blue to purple grape with a soft, velvety structure with medium tannins and low acidity, producing dark fruity flavors.
Sangiovese is the most planted grape in Tuscany and all of Italy, deriving its name from the Latin for the “blood of Jupiter”. It is possible that this grape dates back to the time of Etruscans and is closely related to the Ciliegiolo grape. A sangiovese wine has an earthy cherry flavor that readily acquires a taste of vanilla and oak after aging in barrels. The tannins are not too strong but the acidity is high.
The Castiglion del Bosco traces its heritage back to 1100 AD when the castile was built and in the 13th century the family owners added stone walls around the castile. Skipping forward a few years to 1967 the estate joins with a few other local families to found the Brunello di Montalcino wine association. Brunello eventually becomes one of the first Italian wines to be granted the DOC and DOCG categories. Massimo Ferragamo, in 2003, purchased Castiglion del Bosco to add to his winery in Riparbella. By the end of the decade he has added guest villas and a golf course to the Castiglion del Bosco estate.
Dainero is produced from the grapes grown at Castiglion del Bosco’s 25 acres of vineyards at Riparbella, less than 8 miles from the western coast and just north of the Bolgheri wine region. The vineyards are located within the wide-ranging Toscana IGT appellation. The vineyards enjoy an Mediterranean to a sub-continental climate with cool ocean breezes drafting over the 1475′ above sea level west-facing, vine-covered hills. The iron-rich, alluvial, clayey soils containing metamorphic gravels and pebbles, ensure that the vines are well-drained, healthy and stable. The vineyards are planted with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. The diurnal growing season temperature-range for the vineyards is 50-85ºF with rainfall averaging 3-4″ per month.
The Merlot grapes were harvested during the first part of September while the Sangiovese grapes were harvested during the last part of this month. The grapes are processed at the Castiglion del Bosco cellars. After sorting the grapes they are gravity fed into steel tanks and fermented for 15 days at 82ºF . The wine spends 6 months in French oak barrels, 30% of which is new and 70% old. The wine then spends 6 months in the bottle before it’s marketed to the public.
A ruby-red wine trending towards purple with a tawny rim. Aromas of black fruits, currants, and spice. A medium to full-bodied, balanced and structured, but somewhat thick in the mouth. The tannins and acidity are working well together producing a slightly sharp and long finish. I rated this wine at 8.5/10 mainly because I believe it is past its prime, not as clear and crisp as it should be. The wine likely peaked about a year ago.
Enjoy this wine with a dish of spaghetti and Italian sausage. A platter of hard cheeses would also do this wine justice.
A good wine that you shouldn’t spend more than $10 on. Drink this year. Decant and aerate for one hour, or more, before drinking.